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Espoused values are values declared to be believed and desired by a person or company. At every point in time, we are judged based on the standards and values that we claim to stand for. This is constant for individuals and also for organizations. People will question if a company stands for those acclaimed values. As individuals who interact with and engage people, we would be checked to ascertain those values either by usual intentions or not. Essential values are the bedrock of the success of any individual or organization.

Many people habitually test others to see their actual values because they don’t act by what they say in most cases. To build trust and a lasting relationship among people, your values are essential. We often tend to act based on emotions and how a particular situation affects us, neglecting what values we say we stand for. It might be anger or any other bad habit that doesn’t go with our values. But after the deed is done, we tend to regret those actions of ours. It’s a sign that we are human beings.

Espoused values

As it is for humans, so it is for organizations. Apart from having aims and objectives for the company, it is necessary to have values too. What are values? Values are principles or standards of behavior. Values can also be said to be the degree of importance of something or action to determine what actions are best to do or what way is best to live.

What are espoused values?

Espoused values are the values that an organization or a person states that it believes in and is desired. Espoused values are often seen in mission statements, presentations, taglines, etc., of organizations. They are not meant to direct how the workers in the organization work but to inspire them to work and behave.

Espoused values are the things advocated by a company’s leadership and management. Edgar Schein, a former professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, defined espoused values in three ways. He authored a book called Organizational Culture and Leadership, which talks about organizational culture, corporate structure, and workplace culture.

Espoused values

Here are his definitions: He defined espoused values to be beliefs upon which a company is built (could mean the code of conduct); demonstrated traits shown by the leaders as examples by modelling the values they wish to see in their company; promotional efforts that communicate the company’s core beliefs.

Espoused values can also be said to be publicly stated values and standards of an organization which can be found in mission statements, Objectives, Goals, Vision Statements, etc. Espoused values are often regarded as the aspirations of a company. They directly influence how a company operates and how the employees function. It is one of the main factors that drive an organization’s culture together with Artifacts and basic underlying assumptions. The three factors affect an organization’s culture.
While espoused values don’t direct employees on how to operate in an organization, it only inspires them to work according to the company’s values.

Difference between Espoused values and Enacted values

Espoused values

We have different values. In this post, we will be looking at espoused and enacted values. So much has been said on espoused values already, but for emphasis’s sake, let’s check what it means again. It is the values an organization states that it believes in. So, what is enacted values? Enacted values are values that the organization members and employees perceive to be valued by the organization. These are values that are shown in the behaviors of everyone in the organization structure, right from the Chairman or founder of the organization and down to the last worker in the company.

Unlike espoused values written in mission statements, goals, objectives, vision statements, etc., enacted values are seen in the behaviors of the people in the organization. Note that both espoused values and enacted values are essential to an organization. As individuals, we have met people who tell us what their values are, but they act otherwise.

It could have happened to us too, telling people what our values are, but, in the end, when we have the opportunity to show it, we don’t act accordingly. It does not mean that we are lying when we say what our espoused values are and don’t act like them. It simply means that we haven’t found a way to turn our espoused values into enacted values (i.e., doing precisely what we say our values are).

Having a written (espoused values) value is essential but also having enacted value is very important. For an organization that wants to build a good reputation with customers and fellow business organizations, good and healthy relationships can only be built by enacted values, not written words (espoused values). Although both are important, and espoused values can to turned into enacted values.

How to turn espoused values into enacted values

Espoused values

It has been said earlier that espoused values are as important as enacted values. Still, people get to draw conclusions on their encounters with people’s or company’s actions or behavior (which are the enacted values) and not just the written behaviors or relationship traits (the espoused values). Under this topic, we would be talking about how to turn espoused values (written values) into enacted values (action).

  • Write down your espoused values: The first step in turning espoused values into enacted values is naming your espoused values. The idea behind this is to make your values visible. Values that only exist inside the mind might fly into thin air when other things come into the mind. Take time to make a list of what values you like, both as an individual or as an organization. Take a long list of values you have, or you want to start exhibiting. It will help you to look beyond your current self. Please don’t limit your list to things you have alone, the values you see in people, and you want to have too; include them in the list.
  • Reduce your espouse values: After listing your espoused values and what values you want to teach, the next thing is to narrow them down. One of the major challenges we have with espoused values is that we have too many of them at the same time. When we have too many values to implement at once, we don’t know where to focus our actions, and we end up not acting on many of our values at all. Choose a few of them from the list you have written and focus on them. When you have too many values to chase after, you end up losing all-important values.
  • Prune your habit and character: Habit and character are ingredients of values. Without a good habit or character, it’s not possible to have good values. After selecting essential values out of the espoused values, you need to work on your habit and character. It would help if you had good ethics even when nobody is looking at you. The best time to improve yourself and your values are when you have the opportunity to cheat on your values when nobody is looking at you. You will feel like doing it since nobody is watching, but you cannot lie to yourself about what you stand for.
  • Be determined: It’s not easy to learn and do new things, especially when it comes to things that have to do with values and ethics. Because these are things you can’t force, either you do them, have them, or not. Determination will help you to stand your ground on your values even when you feel compromised. The more deterministic you become, the easier it becomes to act and defend your values. There will be a test of values and ethics from time to time; determination will keep you moving in the face of rejection.
  • Put into action what you want: If you don’t do it, it won’t become a habit, and without that, you can’t exhibit correct values. At first, it might not be easy, especially when you have to exhibit new values, but in the long run, it will become easy. Practice what you say. You build credibility and reputation when people see that you do what you say

Why having espoused and enacted values are important?

  • It helps to increase orderliness and punctuality among employees.
  • It helps to increase productivity and performance.
  • It helps to provide excellent customer service.
  • It facilitates better product quality and production.
  • It promotes creativity and innovation with product and service creation.
  • It helps to build trust with customers and partners in business.

Your relationship with people is essential. People won’t judge based on what they hear from you but on your actions. Join the Black Sheep Community, where experts and real-life coaches guide you on effective ways to live a balanced life. You will not remain the same after sessions with our experts.

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